Red apples hung heavy from the tree and where the color of cherries. There were five trees of such and each one was not to be touched.
One was poison. You never knew which one. They enticed you and beckoned you to try just one of them.
Of course it was not the apples that were doing the enticing.
It was her. She was viewed as a witch by most but there were others that thought of her as a princess.
One day a young man from afar stumbled into the small orchard of five trees. He was mesmerized by the cherry red apples. He thought he heard voices.
He was about to pluck one when a young lady with raven black hair appeared. He stared at her beauty.
She smiled and came forward getting closer and closer to him. He noticed an apple in her hand.
“They’re beautiful aren’t they,” they said.
He nodded. “I was about to taste one. They look so good.”
She smiled and came a little closer and held up the apple. He swallowed hard. He wanted the apple.
She sighed. “I could give you this apple but then you must do something for me.”
“What would you like? I will do it.”
She smiled. “Of course you will.” She placed the apple in his hand and all he could feel was the desire to bite into the apple.
She held up her finger. “One bite now and then you do what I ask and then you can have the rest of the apple.” She waved her hand around at the other apples. “You can have all you want.”
He smiled. “Really? I will do it.”
He took one bite and it was heavenly. He almost took another bite when he looked at her. He stopped then. “What is it that you would like?”
“For you to keep a secret.”
His eyes went wide. “A secret? You don’t want me to go on some quest or slay a dragon or defeat an evil queen?”
She shook her head. “No, I want you to keep a secret and tell no one.”
He looked down at the apple. He wanted all of it and he wanted more of the apples off the trees. What could be so hard as to keep a secret? He looked over at her and her dark eyes that were the color of midnight. She was waiting for an answer.
A funny feeling came over him and something told him he should not make a deal with her. But he already bit into the apple. How would he tell her that he changed his mind?
“Perhaps you should ask someone else to keep your secret. I don’t believe I am the one to do such a task.”
“Why would you say that? You look trust worthy to me. Are you not true and trustworthy to others?”
“Of course I am.”
“Then you will have no problem keeping my secret.”
He nodded. “Okay, what is your secret?”
“My secret is… that all the trees that you see… all five of them are missing princes. I am keeping them here.”
He looked at the trees and then at her. His first thought was that she was mad. “I see. These trees are missing princes. They look like apple trees to me.”
She sighed. “Of course they look like apple trees silly. That is what I changed them into.”
He wanted away from her. “Okay, I will keep your secret.” He turned around then to walk away.
“Where are you going? Don’t’ you want another apple? You can have anyone you want. All you have to do is choose.”
He looked back at her and shook his head. “No thank you. I will just leave. Your secret is safe.”
As he walked away the breeze picked up and the apples trees started to sway this way and that way. What was happening? She was standing in the middles of the trees and her hair didn’t’ move in the breeze.
He gasped. She was a witch. Now he was running.
But it was too late. Just as he thought he made it out of the apple orchard, he felt the breeze around his waist. It was like the wind had hands and were pulling him back.
Every effort he tried to free himself, the pull got stronger.
Finally he was standing facing her. The breeze died down. “But I promised you I would keep your secret.”
“That you did. But you must choose an apple. It was part of the bargain.”
He looked around at all the apples. Then he spied one that was hanging on a limb that was by itself. “I pick that one.”
She smiled. “It is yours.”
Now it was in his hand. He stared at it for a moment and then looked up at her. “Now I can go?”
She nodded and said no more.
It was later that day when he stopped in a village. He went inside a small bake shop to get some bread. When he went to pay for the bread he reached in and brought out the apple.
The lady of the bake shop spied the apple. “Where did you get such an apple?”
“It was given to me.”
“Would you like to trade?”
He looked at her. “You mean trade the apple for the bread?”
She nodded never taking her eyes off the apple.
He shrugged. “I suppose so. The apple is yours.”
He took his bread and left.
A couple of days later he heard a story. The lady at the bake shop made a pie with a special apple. He wondered how she made a pie with just one apple. But the story went that when she took it out to cool, a young girl came to the shop and offered the lady another apple.
Of course she took it and all she had to do was keep a secret. He knew who the young girl was.
He went back to the bake shop and the lady saw him and shook her head. “I should have never have taken that apple.”
“Because she showed up. If I had known that she was the one that gave you that apple…
“Who is she?”
The lady leaned over and whispered. “They call her Snow White. But everyone knows she’s a witch.”
“Is she evil?”
The lady nodded. “She sure is. You stay away from her and whatever she told you to keep secret, keep it and say nothing. Go far away from here. Ya hear?”
“But why? I have not seen her since and I have told no one of the secret?”
“Does not matter. You will see her again. Mark my word.”
He walked out the bake shop and thought about what the lady said. He thought he would take her advice and leave and never come back.
The next day as he was traveling he came across what looked like an old lady on the side of the road. He stopped and asked if she needed help. “Your very kind young man. I just need a ride to town.”
He gave her a ride to town and she was very happy. She turned around after she got off his horse. “This is for you.”
He gasped. She wasn’t an old lady anymore. It was Snow White and she had a beautiful cherry red apple in her hand.
“That you would leave me. I knew you were special and you have kept my secret. I want you to keep another one.”
Before he could answer she continued on. “If you keep this one, I will let you go.”
“What is it then?”
“If you take this apple and take a bite, all your dreams will come true. And as long as you keep the secret, you will remain happy.”
He was sceptical of her and something told him to be wary of her. “How do I know I won’t end up in you orchard as another one of your apple trees or something?”
Snow White smiled. “I promised you freedom and I will give it.”
He took a deep breath. “Okay, what is the secret this time?”
“The five missing princes can be rescued and returned safely.”
He narrowed his gaze at her. “But you’re not going to say how?”
She smiled at him and tilted her head at him. “I’ll tell you how. The other part of the secret is you have to find true love and say these words-I will forever love you and give myself wholly to you.”
“That could take a long time.”
She shrugged. “You better start looking.” Then she handed him the apple.
Without thinking he took the apple and bit into it. The world blurred and then he found himself in another village. Now he knew that she was up to something. To be rid of her he had to defeat her. That was the only way to be truly free of her.
So, he set out down the street in this new village that he had never been in. A bake shop at the end of the street caught his eye. When he went in a young girl at the counter greeted him. They both smiled at one another. His heart took on a faster beat.
It was instant love and he forgot for a moment about defeating Snow White. Until one night when they were enjoying an evening together. Sarah looked over at him and told him she had a dream of a beautiful apple orchard. The apples were cherry red and hanging waiting to be picked.
He gasped. Snow White had found them. He was fearful what she might do to Sarah. Then he remembered the words that she told him. He turned to her and said “I will love your forever and give myself wholly to you.”
Sarah looked at him for a moment and then smiled. The world went blurry again and now he was back standing in the orchard like the first time. Had he ever left?
When he turned around there was Snow White holding out an apple for him to take. He went up to her and took the apple. “I will never be free will I? You lied to me.”
She never smiled and her dark eyes rested on him. “You wondered into my territory and now you are trapped. But before she could say anything more he said the words I will love you forever and give myself wholly to you. He didn’t know why he said those words to her but something happened. The apples on the tree started to shrivel and the trees went all twisted and gnarly. Snow White turned into an old lady like the one he met on the road.
She turned into a black mist that swirled around and around until she flew up into the sky and disappeared. The apple trees around him also started to transform.
Standing before him were five men who were all looking at each other in bewilderment. Then they all say him.
“You rescued us,” said one of them.
He smiled. “Yes, I did.”
Another one came up to him. “How did you know to say those words to her?”
“I don’t know. It just occurred to me that telling her that I loved her was poison somehow to her. It worked and broke the spell.”
All six men left together. He turned and glanced back where the orchard was and for a split second he thought he say a young girl with raven black hair running through the forest. He shook his head and it was deer.
Snow White peeked out behind the trees and watched the men disappear. She went down the road opposite the men and it wasn’t long when she met a young man who offered her assistance. She accepted. When they arrived in the next village she offered the young man an apple.
He bit into it eagerly and she smiled.